For Cor Pan, a Dutch holidaymaker heading for Kuala Lumpur with his girlfriend, boarding a Malaysia Airlines flight was an irresistible opportunity for black humour.
As he made his way down the sky bridge from gate G03 at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport, he paused to take a picture of the Boeing 777-200 that he and his girlfriend were about to board.
In a reference to the disappearance of flight MH370 in March, Mr Pan posted the picture on his Facebook page with the message: “If the plane disappears, this is what it looks like.”
His friends responded by wishing him a good holiday and reminding him to send back lots of photos, but within hours their messages would turn to fear, and then despair.
For the next 110 minutes, the flight was entirely uneventful. With a complement of 280 passengers and 15 crew, MH17 made its way over Germany, Poland and Ukraine, reaching its cruising altitude of 33,000 feet and flying straight and level, but at 1:21 p.m. radar contact was suddenly lost.
On the ground, Igor Strelkov – also known as Igor Girkin – the leader of the pro-Russian separatists fighting the Ukrainian government forces for control of eastern Ukraine, used his page on the social networking site Vkontakte to boast that his men had just shot down an aircraft. In a message posted at 2.50 p.m. BST, he wrote: “In the district of Torez an An-26 was just shot down. It crashed somewhere near the Progress mine.
在地面上，烏克蘭東部親俄武裝頭目Igor Strelkov——又名Igor Girkin，在俄羅斯社交網站Vkontakte上炫耀其部隊擊落一架飛機。在英國夏令時的下午2時50分的時候，他寫道：“我們今天在Torez附近擊落一架安托洛夫26型飛機。地點在進步礦場附近。”